‘Are we there yet?’…. when will the bottom of the housing market be reached?

The most popular question I am asked as of late is whether or not we are at the bottom of the housing market, and the answer is ‘no…. but perhaps closer than we think’. Today we will consider a few of the things we will need to see in order for ‘recovery’ to occur.

First of all we need to see a reduction in the massive overhang of housing stock, even if the number reduces, they all need to be sold and a degree of scarcity will need to develop in order to make prices go up again, currently supply is swamping demand and that dynamic will leave uncertainty in its wake.

However (and here is part of the ‘perhaps closer’ bit), NAMA will likely take a lot of housing off the market, in particular it will take it off the market and drip feed it back in, if this happens then it will avoid devastating fire sales, it might also lead to stagnation …

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Toxic traders, capitalising on volumes

Joe Saluzzi of Themis Trading (I mistakenly read the link initially as ‘the mistrading’!) have recently published a paper which accuses traders of intentionally trading huge volumes where they buy and sell for the same price and in the process make a half a cent per share. The volume of trading is fictitious ‘high frequency traders’, what they do is buy and sell and collect liquidity rebates from the exchange (note: 50 milliseconds is a huge amount of time) in this game. Do it 8 billion times and it really starts to add up.

This is just depressing, actual investors don’t get to join in because the firms engaged in this are doing it within the actual exchanges using the fastest computer technology available. They also have an unfair advantage in how they trade because they use rules intended to match buyers and sellers to their advantage, they find hidden liquidity and in essence remove it from the market as profit.

The most powerful deterrent would be to make a rule …

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Are you getting your full tax relief?

There was an article in one of Ireland’s national newspapers last week describing the major issues surrounding the rescinding and subsequent re instatement of mortgage Interest relief. For those who are uninformed about this subject, mortgage interest relief (or TRS) was suspended pending the requirement for every person that previously claimed relief to re-apply for it. This was not a move intended to deprive anyone of their entitlements, more a housekeeping exercise to make sure that things are as they should be.

Thousands of Irish home owners had their tax relief temporarily suspended so that a general process of reassessment could take place whereby people would ascertain that whatever they were receiving in tax relief was correct. The Government spends millions every year on the TRS scheme, and with the exchequer being frightfully strained like Mary Hearney doing a triathlon, it was a necessary to ensure that the recipients of tax relief at source were indeed fully entitled to it.

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Rent to buy: The pitfalls in practice

Rent to buy is not a ‘new idea’, one of my mentors is a man who built over 10,000 homes in Dublin (he retired in the 70’s having started his business in the late 40’s), but in talking to him he spoke of almost exclusively selling houses in staged payments and renting them out to prospective buyers as a way of paying for the property.

The resurfacing of rent to buy is not evidence of the wheel being reinvented but purely of the prevailing economic environment, however, unlike the way it operated over thirty years ago, today renting to buy is having obligations stitched into the contract that may not be possible to meet in the future and therefore it leaves the renter/purchaser in some slight uncertainty.

One of the primary issues is that of ‘loan offers secured’. When you rent to buy you are essentially (in most cases) saying you will buy the property at a point in the future for the market value at the time of completion of …

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Drop in Fixed Mortgage Rates likely

In watching the movements of the Euribor Yield Curve we saw that margins were likely to increase on fixed rates, however, over the month of April we are seeing the yield curve drop below levels seen at the start of the month and that will likely result in a repricing of debt.

What we are seeing is the increasingly bearing outlook feeding through to interbank rates with the expectation of the May cut showing a strong likelyhood of going too 1%, that is why the 1 month money has actually dropped below that mark when earlier in the month it was slightly above it.

The yield curve is generally feeding the market information about inflation and it would appear that after the May rate decrease that the medium term outlook is depressed. The lines hold a tight margin until the two year mark at which point the earlier curve trends higher and today’s keeps that c.20bip difference. Fixed rates don’t always change with rate drops because they are priced off of …

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Rent or Buy the 5 year outlook

Today we are going to look at a comparison of renting vs buying with a five year outlook given the current interest rates, the yield outlook and lastly the cost of renting.

The following figures factor in real life examples taken from existing lending rates/rental prices and the forward estimation on rates is taken from presumptions in the current yield curve (chart is below). The terms applied in each example are 30 years, and the purchase is assumed to be a couple buying together, we can examine the impact for a single person in a separate post.

If you were to take a price of €313,000 for a two bed property (current average taken as a mean of prices in todays daft report – this figure is the Dublin average price across all geographic areas, the figures can be determined for any county the same way) and do the following.

1. Compare the total cost of ownership (we are not factoring in house insurance, bin …

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Geithner plan, re-explained by Khan Academy

Another video from the Khan Academy, talking about the working reality of the Geithner Plan. Really it seems that the plans sole purpose is to allow investors to use taxpayer money to buy assets with all upside and little or no downside by using a credit default swap to insure the deal. Even a zero return isn’t to be balked at when investing during a period of deflation, the way it’s described here puts it out in plain english.

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